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College of Health Sciences and Public Policy:
Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)

The DPA program is designed to prepare students to engage in and address the problems and challenges associated with the administration of public and nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and the world. Through their coursework, students explore the practice of public administration, management, and applied research in a global context, thereby enabling them to gain expertise in solving the complex problems that public organizations encounter. Graduates with a DPA degree are positioned for career opportunities in applied research, management, leadership, and the administration of public and nonprofit organizations; they can also pursue careers in consultancy with organizations that contract with public entities. Students in this program may choose from several specializations, including Geographic Information System (GIS) systems.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) program, students will be able to:

  1. Evaluate effective leadership/management principles (including theory, concepts, and practices) utilized in the public sector.
  2. Evaluate solutions to practical problems in public administration using evidence-based practices and research.
  3. Apply ethical concepts of public administration within organizations.
  4. Apply culturally sensitive public administration research to meet the needs of diverse populations at local, state, national, and international levels of government.
  5. Utilize analytic methods in making decisions related to public administration that contribute to positive social change.
  6. Engage in scientific inquiry to advance practice in the field of public administration.

Minimum Degree Requirements

  • Doctoral Writing Assessment
  • Professional Development Plan and Program of Study
  • Foundations course (3 credits)
  • Core courses (40 credits)
  • Research courses (10 credits)
  • Completion of the Doctoral study
    • Doctoral Seminar courses (5 credits; continuously enrolled in 1 credits per term for a minimum of 5 terms until completed)
    • Doctoral Study completion course (5 credits per term for a minimum of four terms; taken continuously until completion of the doctoral study)
    • Quarter Plans
  • Two residencies


Foundation Course (3 credits)

Core Courses (40 credits)

Research Courses (10 credits)

  • Students may take this as a non-degree course.
  • Students may take this as a non-degree course.


  • Students may take this as a non-degree course.

Residency Requirements

  • Complete Residency 1 in Term 3 or 4.
  • Complete Residency 2 in Term 6 or 7.

Completion of the Doctoral Capstone


The following Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) specializations are no longer accepting new students. Current students in these specializations must complete their programs of study in accordance with Walden’s Time-to-Degree Completion policies. Changing specializations may increase a student’s expected time-to-degree completion and cost.

Course Sequence

Students undertake courses in the following sequence.

Quarter Course Credits
Quarter 1 DDPA 8003 - Foundations in Doctoral Studies  3 credits

DDPA 8405 - Ethics and Social Justice

5 credits
Quarter 2 DDPA 8391 - Doctoral Seminar 1: Welcome to the Capstone Journey  1 credits
RSCH 8110 - Research Theory, Design, and Methods  5 credits
Complete Residency 1 prior to completion of DDPA 8210.
Quarter 3 DDPA 8390 - Strategic Context of Public Management and Leadership  5 credits
DDPA 8392 - Doctoral Seminar 2: Building Knowledge and Skills  1 credits
Quarter 4 RSCH 8210 - Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis OR RSCH 8310 - Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis   5 credits
DDPA 8393 - Doctoral Seminar 3: Establishing Research Questions and Frameworks   1 credits
Complete Residency 2 prior to completion of the first DDPA 8400 Professional Administrative Study course.
Quarter 5 DDPA 8112 - Governance and Public Policy  5 credits
DDPA 8394 - Doctoral Seminar 4: Developing Methods and Maintaining Alignment  1 credits
Quarter 6 DDPA 8382 - Public Policy and Finance   5 credits
DDPA 8395 - Doctoral Seminar 5: Transition to Candidacy  1 credits
Quarter 7 DDPA 8200 - Management Techniques for the Public Sector   5 credits
DDPA 8111 - Leadership and Organizational Change  5 credits
Quarter 8 DDPA 8210 - Analytics for Evidence-Based Decision-Making  5 credits
Quarter 9+ DDPA 8400 - Professional Administrative Study  5 credits per term for a minimum of 4 terms; taken continuously until completion and approved by CAO

*Students take this course for a minimum of four quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their doctoral study with final chief academic officer (CAO) approval. In general, students are continuously registered in the dissertation/doctoral study course until they complete their capstone project and it is approved. This usually takes longer than the minimum required terms in the dissertation/doctoral study course shell.

To complete a doctoral study, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the chief academic officer. Students must also publish their doctoral study on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook.

Doctoral Writing Assessment

Students who start or readmit to doctoral programs at Walden University in the university catalog for academic year 2017 or later will complete the university’s required doctoral writing assessment. Designed to evaluate incoming doctoral students’ writing skills, this assessment aims to help prepare incoming doctoral students to meet the university’s expectations for writing at the doctoral level.

8-Year Maximum Time Frame

In general, students are continuously registered in the dissertation/doctoral study course until they complete their capstone project and it is approved. This usually takes longer than the minimum required terms in the dissertation/doctoral study course shell.

Students have up to 8 years to complete their doctoral degree requirements (see Enrollment Requirements in the student handbook). Students may petition to extend the 8-year maximum time frame, but an extension is not guaranteed.